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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Sunday - June 01, 2014

From: Battle Ground, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Transplants, Trees
Title: Transplant time for small smoke tree from Battle Ground WA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

When do I transplant a smoke tree that is still young, about a foot high? It is too close to a fence, which I fear will be a problem as it gets big. I live in Battle Ground, WA which is zone 6.

ANSWER:

This USDA Plant Profile Map does not show Cotinus obovatus (American smoke tree) growing natively anywhere close to Washington State. The Plant Profile Map for Psorothamnus spinosus (Smoketree) shows it native only to California, Nevada and Arizona. There are 3 other plants in our Native Plant Database with the word "smoke" in their common names but none are what we would call trees.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, recommends the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but also to the area in which those are being grown; in your case, Clark County, WA on the southwestern corner of Washington State. This is to try to ensure that the soils, rainfall and climate are right for the plant in question.

According to Missouri Botanical Garden, there is also a Cotinus coggygria, in the same genus as Cotinus obovatus (American smoke tree), but native in southern Europe to central China, which means it would not be in our Native Plant Database.

However, although we obviously cannot say if your plant will do well in your location, we can tell you that our recommendation for the planting of woody plants (shrubs and trees) is that it be done in a cool time of the year; probably October or November in your area.

 

From the Image Gallery


American smoke tree
Cotinus obovatus

Smoketree
Psorothamnus spinosus

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